Coffee Shops: The New Library

I love this article about coffee shops from the WSJ. I don’t go to coffee shops much except for a quick drop in, but I notice the fun and life sucked out of the places across the board. They have become libraries where everyone types on a laptop and gives you a look if you order your coffee in too loud of a voice.

I think I finally had it when I went back to Ann Arbor where I grew up, and on a quick trip to Espresso Royale (Depresso Royale as it was known to us kids), a place I used to hang out with my friends, smoke our cigarettes, and meet-up with people. It was like our little club house; I used to meet men not at bars, but at cafes, because it wasn’t unusual to approach someone you didn’t know and have a conversation — in fact, it was normal. Things at Depresso Royale had changed considerably.

What is wrong with people, especially college kids today? Did the internet cause a clusterfuck of social anxiety and weirdness? I walk in with my husband and the place is a goddam office minus the cubicles; quiet, a sea of 20 glowing laptop screens, and everyone at an individual table not talking at all! Actually, I’ve seen more life come from the most depressing of cubicle offices. The best was one girl had the alphabet in 26 point font up on her screen, the alphabet! I doubt she was working on a font, she was just screwing around trying to look like she was working. I couldn’t belive this, and I finally lost it:  someone SHUSHED us! For talking! I was pissed. I started mouthing off quite loud at this point, I think I annoyed and maybe even scared some of these kids, “what a fucking morge” “what a bunch of sad sacks” “someone give these people some crystal meth” and “if you just want coffee and aren’t going to socialize, why don’t these people just stay home?” I could have started blurting out worse things, but I just wanted out of there, no one SHUSHES my husband in a coffee shop for asking where the stirry straws are!

Whatever happened to coffee shops being a place where people talked? Exchanged ideas and discussed crap? You get hopped up on caffeine and chain smoked and maybe some other people you know drop by and you all hang out for hours plotting and planning and doing and creating! Do people need to start putting some brandy in their coffee? Fucking live instead of pretending to work on your screenplay, writing that grant proposal you won’t get, or “study”. Do something.

5 thoughts on “Coffee Shops: The New Library”

  1. Oh you KNOW it’s gonna happen…I’m going to get really irritable and run through one of these coffee shops and slap ’em all Three Stooges style.

    Then I’ll finally get a date with Carl Monday.

    1. Hey, I saw Carl Monday Saturday down at Winterfest. With his wifey.
      She seemed very nice, and he looked slightly uncomfortable in the crowd.
      (Yah, duh…)

      ANYWAY……..Arabella, you’re totally right about coffee houses nowadays.
      I think the problem is that most of them aren’t ‘true’ coffeehouses, but rather StarBigBucks or Wannabicas types.

      Damn, I miss Red Star.

  2. while we’re eulogizing, I miss Cravings on Lake in RR. There was always this table of like 15 Russians who would talk loud and laugh and be a little scary. It was their meeting place, sipping espresso. Pheonix can still be pretty raucous

  3. See, I sort of expect this behavior from a Starfucks, but to walk into a couple places I used to frequent, that had such a fun mixed crowd, and to see such a change for the worse was unsettling. Another reader made a point about how maybe the smoking ban has effected socialization perhaps? In Michigan you can still smoke in bars, just not places with food (which I can kinda see, but most people coffee + cigs went together). I was informed recently though, there is still a cafe here in Cleveland that allows smoking *shhhh!*

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